We know that social media has many benefits, from keeping in touch with family and friends with ease, to getting a glimpse at the private lives of celebrities, to keeping up with major news and current events around the world. In this age of digital interaction, a trend of using the power of social media giants, such as Facebook, as a marketing and branding tool for businesses, has continued to rise. For the young professional, the combination of marketing tools and networking techniques makes Facebook a staple for personal branding.
Facebook is both the most universally recognisable social media platform, and the largest network on the scene. The colossus has a massive user base of over a billion people worldwide, with the latest numbers (from December 2016) indicating around 1.23 billion daily active users and an astonishing 1.86 billion monthly active users. The site is free to use both for personal and professional purposes, with most features within the site being freely available to all users (Facebook Ads being the notable exception). Facebook grants an opportunity to connect with industry professionals around the world, generate leads, and create an online presence in-line with your personal branding strategy and your professional philosophy.
Five Key Features
Facebook offers the ability to use a single account to create several “profiles” for branding purposes. These additional “profiles”, known as Pages, can be used to represent your business, or for yourself as a Public Figure. The use "public figure" status need not be considered exclusive and just for politicians or celebrities. Any individual who frequently takes advantage of Facebook's platform for posting and sharing content, or communicating with an audience outside of your true friend network, can benefit from creating a separate Facebook Page to reflect this identity in the public eye. This may include many users, from individual bloggers and journalists sharing their work, to personal fitness trainers and business coaches. Facebook's consumer-driven audience mindset makes the platform an ideal channel to for any professional looking to reach an audience with a message appealing to personal interests.
When creating a public Facebook Page, be sure to complete all the appropriate fields in the About tab with strategically crafted information to increase your ranking and reach. This information should be consistent with your individual brand on other platforms such as your website, blog etc. and will be used to help relevant users discover your page and message. You can also check your Page Insights to monitor your Page’s reach and engagement to build a better understanding what audience are most receptive to your brand identity and the content you share. Where desired, you can of course subsequently leverage Facebook's advertising platform and boost these metrics with targeted Facebook Ads for even more exposure and further connecting your brand with the working world.
The ability to make posts is the keystone of social media, but what makes Facebook’s interface unique is the sheer number of options available to you for posting. You can list your emotional state, activities you’re engaged in and where you are. You can share photos, albums, videos, and links directly in your posts. You have the option to share content from other users, and to tag the people you’d most like to reach in your friends list, all with no character limits.
Privacy options on Facebook are a fantastic tool for personal branding. You decide what people can and can’t see, down to individual posts and information sections. For instance, you may want to set your work and education sections as public, and your religious and political views to just friends. If you make a post promoting your personal blog, set it to public so the world can see, or set an album from a birthday to only a specific group of family members. The customization is almost infinite, and it allows for a very versatile profile that can be tailored and compartmentalized as you wish.
Facebook gives you an opportunity to flaunt your qualifications for the world to see. Fill in your profile (and Page) information thoroughly, including your relevant work experience, volunteer information, and education so that you can be found by employers, colleagues, clients, and alumni and grow your network. With further details added to your profile Be sure to complete your “About Me” and basic demographic information as well, so that targeted searches can pick you up.
Use the Groups feature to network with other industry professionals around the world or close to home. Seek out local, national, and global groups for your industry and join the conversation among your peers. Likewise, you should create groups to organically gain followers, likes, and, most importantly, to establish yourself as an authority in your field.
who are the users?
As we mentioned earlier, there are over a billion people who use Facebook on a daily basis, and almost two billion who use the platform at least once a month. Facebook has users on six of the seven continents, and upwards of 85% of daily users are from countries other than the US and Canada, making Facebook a go-to for global networking and international collaboration. Its users not only span the globe, they also span demographic groups. Facebook is used by people of all age groups (13+), education levels, professional status, relationship status, genders, races, and location.
power-user tips & tricks
Facebook (Graph) Search
In 2013, Facebook launched Graph Search, an intuitive natural language query based tool for searching all types of content, allowing users to naturally look for things like "Photos of my friends in Paris" to find highly relevant updates, media & users.
Facebook Search (rebranded) can be particularly useful when you're looking for content, should as a photo from a concert, but you don't know the source. Simply search associated terms like "photos of me at Take That concert" and relevant content will be pulled from across the platform.
Friends lists on Facebook are a handy way of keeping track of the different groups of people in your network, be it from colleagues to school friends, or your local neighbours to your family.
Using lists can help you independently monitor what's going on in the lives of different groups, but also can be very useful in controlling who has access to the content you are sharing on Facebook.
Coupled with privacy settings (as mentioned earlier) and Facebook Search, you can create specific lists for your network with whom you can share relevant content, without having to clog the feed or (fully expose yourself) to everyone in your friends list.
Networking Opportunities on Facebook
Groups and Pages, as well as your personal profile, can be used to create hundreds of networking connections if you make the most of the tools Facebook gives you to succeed. By including your education and work experience, you can search for friends among fellow students, alumni, and colleagues. You can then reach out to their friends in your industry and gain even more connections.
Your Pages allow you to interact with other industry professionals as well, while maintaining a degree of professional distance. Liking and following the Pages of mentors, industry leaders, and peers not only gives you a chance to learn more about your industry, but also puts you in a position to create valuable content that follows the trends you can see by watching what they are looking for.
This, along with joining, creating, and participating in industry-related groups, establishes you as an authority in your industry, making you more appealing and trustworthy and helping you develop your personal and professional voice along the way. As your authority grows, so will your followership, and thus, your professional network.